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The best Coore and Crenshaw golf courses

The 10 best golf courses designed by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw (as ranked by Golf Digest's course-ranking panelists)
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Dom Furore

January 02, 2022

The partnership of Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw has been one golf's most respected architectural teams for quite some time. It all started back in the late 1980s, when the pair visited a site for a course that was never built. This came soon after Coore's first course opened at Rockport Country Club in Texas, and Crenshaw—who had just won the 1984 Masters—was so impressed with Coore's work, Crenshaw signed up to partner with the former Pete Dye associate. The talented duo has worked together for more than 30 years, producing some of the game's most revered designs.

Here's a look at the duo's most notable original designs—ranked in the order our Golf Digest course-ranking panelists scored them based on our most recent America's 100 Greatest Golf Courses ranking and Golf Digest's World 100 ranking. (Redesigns such as Pinehurst No. 2 and Maidstone aren't included in this list.)

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LC Lambrecht

This Everglades-meets-Ballybunion layout, which is how Ron Whitten used to describe the Red course at Streamsong after it opened in 2013, is the highest ranked of the three courses at central Florida's new Streamsong Resort. Coore and Crenshaw worked with Tom Doak on which land each would use for their routings at Streamsong, a rare collaboration among competitors, but not surprising given their friendship. The Red course, which debuted inside the 100 Greatest in its first appearance, is ranked 118th on Golf Digest's most recent rankings.

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Winner of our 2017 Best New award, Sand Valley made its debut on Golf Digest's national rankings last year, placing 112th on America's Second 100 Greatest. The bold and beautiful design in the middle of Wisconsin is inspired by Pine Valley and Sand Hills, but topped with its own personality. Sand Valley has wider panoramas, larger expanses of visible sand, fewer pines and bigger targets on each hole. And rather than the ultra minimalist Sand Hills, the design at Sand Valley involves more manipulation of the land: sculptured fairways, hand-carved sand scars, invented green sites, all done with such sophistication as to mislead most into believing such features were there from the beginning.

8. Sheep Ranch, Bandon, Ore.

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Dom Furore

One of the most highly anticipated course openings of the past decade, Sheep Ranch, the fifth 18-hole course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, won Golf Digest's Best New award in 2020. Eight greens are positioned on the cliffside—nine if you count the par-3 third, elevated above the conjoined 16th green, offering a box-seat view of the Pacific. As our Derek Duncan writes: "It is by far the most open of Bandon’s oceanfront rota—Bandon Dunes, Pacific Dunes and, to a lesser extent, Old Macdonald, each break out spectacularly toward the coastline, but their interior sections play through broken topography with holes tucked in pockets and protected by dune ridges. Sheep Ranch is entirely exposed, its holes rambling across a naked blufftop plain to the north of Old Macdonald." Though it did not have enough ballots to qualify for America's 100 Greatest in its first year of eligibility (we require 75 ballots in our 10-year cycle to be considered), its scores would place it in consideration for our top 100 list.

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Stephen Szurlej

Carved mostly out of wooded land though it starts and finishes among massive sand dunes, the facility's third course, which opened in 2005, is the fourth-highest ranked course at Bandon Dunes—sitting at 67th on our latest ranking.

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The Henebrys/Courtesy of Old Sandwich GC

Old Sandwich ranked 58th on our most recent 100 Greatest ranking. Carved out of the brush and sand just two miles from the ocean, Coore and Crenshaw utilized some rolling terrain and beautiful landscapes to create another minimalist design (see Sand Hills, below).

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Photo by Stephen Szurlej

Sitting among towering Tasmanian sandscapes is this links course that was built to be the sister course of Tom Doak's Barnbougle Dunes, No. 16 on our World 100. Lost Farm is currently No. 47 on our World 100.

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Courtesy of Shanqin Bay G.C.

Probably unknown by most casual American golfers, Shanqin Bay has been called by some the best course in Asia. Built on seaside sand dunes on China's Hainan Island, Shanqin Bay sits at No. 14 on Golf Digest's most recent World 100 ranking, down from its position on our previous world list.

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Evan Schiller

Built on sandy bluffs along the North Shore of Long Island, Friar's Head is another minimalist success by Coore and Crenshaw, which despite losing out on Golf Digest's 2003 Best New Private survey to the Club at Black Rock in Idaho and Dallas National, Friar's Head ranks far above those designs, continuing to rise in our 100 Greatest rankings—up to 16th, one spot away from its highest-ever position.

Cabot Cliffs Golf Course #16

John and Jeannine Henebry

On Cabot Cliffs, Golf Digest's 2015 Best New honoree, Whitten wrote: "This is the second coming of Cypress Point, which in my mind was previously unmatched in its beauty, variety and thrills." For a man not known for hyperbole, that is the highest praise. Cabot Cliffs was No. 11 on our most recent World 100 ranking.

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Dom Furore

Perhaps most architecturally significant out of this group of courses, Sand Hills is regarded as one of the most natural golf courses ever built. As Golf Digest's Whitten writes: "The golf course wasn't so much designed as discovered," and helped guide the later works of Coore and Crenshaw. Sand Hills is 10th on our most recent 100 Greatest ranking, tied for its highest position ever on our list.

Other notable Coore and Crenshaw courses:

Colorado Golf Club, Parker, Colo. -- A member of Golf Digest's Second 100 Greatest rankings since its induction in 2013, Colorado Golf Club has hosted the 2010 Senior PGA, 2013 Solheim Cup and the 2019 U.S. Mid-Amateur. The naturalist layout about 30 miles southwest of Denver is currently ranked 120th on our latest Second 100 Greatest list.

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Courtesy of Jon Cavalier

Kapalua (Plantation) was the design duo's first completed design. It underwent what team called an extensive "refinement" ahead of the 2020 Sentry Tournament of Champions to restore to some of the course's original design principles. It ranks 130th on our most recent Second 100 Greatest and is 23rd among public courses.

Ozarks National (above) at Big Cedar Lodge, our 2019 Best New public award winner, debuted on America's Second 100 Greatest at No. 155.

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Evan Schiller

Trinity Forest Golf Club (above), which hosted the AT&T Bryon Nelson upon opening, debuted on our Best in Texas ranking at No. 6. The innovative design finished runner-up in our 2018 Best New private category. Trinity Forest's scores were high enough to make our Second 100 Greatest ranking but it lacked our required 75 evaluations in a 10-year period.

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Austin Golf Club: Ben Crenshaw enjoys his layout so much in his hometown that he actually lives on property. The club isn't interested in participating in our rankings, so it doesn't have enough ballots to appear on either an in-state or national list -- but its scores are high enough to where it would be a Second 100 contender.

Dormie Club: Narrowly missed making Golf Digest's latest Second 100 Greatest ranking -- it ranked 185th on Golf Digest's 2015-2016 ranking.

The Golf Club at Cuscowilla in Eatonton, Ga. -- No. 14 on Golf Digest's most recent Best in State rankings, the G.C. at Cuscowilla recently went full-private, previously being a 100 Greatest Public course.

Chechessee Creek in Okatie, S.C.: Like Dormie Club, made Golf Digest's 2015-2016 ranking at No. 197, and narrowly missed in 2017-2018.

Hidden Creek Golf Club: At No. 16 on our Best in New Jersey, Hidden Creek—near Atlantic City—is the rare Coore & Crenshaw course on the East Coast.

East Hampton Golf Club: The diverse 18-hole routing was No. 28 on Golf Digest's 2015-2016 Best in State rankings.

We-Ko-Pa (Saguaro) in Fort McDowell, Ariz.: One of Arizona's top public courses, the Saguaro course is the top-ranked course at this stellar 36-hole facility.

Bandon Preserve: The fun 13-hole par-3 course at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort has become one of the most popular rounds to book at the resort.

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Lonna Tucker